Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs...

Dave got an e-mail from his friend, Pick, who is
serving in Afghanistan. It's a very good read.

click here .

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

It's All About Choices - Epilogue...

I was asked to put up links to all the segments for
this when I wrote the final installment, so here ya go:
start here, then Part 2, Part 3, Part 4,
then this, and Part 5.

Right now, my brain feels like a salad spinner.

I could easily turn this into a very long soap opera and
relay all the details of: the memorial service, finding the
pool of blood under the sofa, disposing of the sofa and rug,
moving back in gradually over a period of two months
before I could sleep in the house again.
Not to mention, the house was heading to foreclosure
because he let the mortgage get three months behind
(even though I left enough money in the bank for him
to be able to pay the bills for six months) and...
over $22,000 in credit card bills.

That almost covers it.

Obviously, I survived it. I CHOSE to survive it.

It sucked for a long time, and there were plenty of times
when I wasn't sure that I would survive.
Plenty of times, too, when I really didn't want to survive.
Those times scared me the most.
Some of those times were not too long ago.
I don't want to go back there again.

He made the choices that determined his life... and death.
I will never understand all of his choices. I don't need to...

Nearly thirty years have gone by since Michael and I met.
More than half of my life. That's enough.

I cannot erase that time, nor do I want to. But, what I can do,
is put that time in perspective. It's done. I am not.

I am taking back my life. I am claiming my life... for ME.

I CHOOSE to live:
without anger.
without regret.
without guilt.
with hope.
with strength.
with peace.
with a full heart.

I choose to have a good life.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day...

...a day to remember and honor all who
have served... and are now serving...
our great country.

Bless you all.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

It's All About Choices - Part 5...

I found myself sitting at my neighbor's dining table
with two investigators from the sheriff's department.
They had a tape recorder on the table and were informing
me that the interview was being recorded for their

I remember them asking: Did I live at the house?
Did we/I own any guns? Did he have any enemies?
Did he ever threaten suicide?
I truthfully answered 'No' to all those questions.
I don't remember what else they asked.

Next, I remember sitting on the neighbor's porch steps,
looking toward our house, when the back door opened
and saw two EMTs carrying a gurney with Michael's body
in a body bag. A uniformed deputy followed, carrying a
gun that I was later to learn was a .410 shotgun,
the gun he used on himself while sitting on the sofa in
the living room.

I walked to the waiting hearse (not ambulance).
I asked them to let me see my husband.
One of the investigators said that would not be a good
idea. I argued. He stood firm in his refusal.
Eventually, a long time later, I appreciated his judgement.
I numbly watched the hearse pull away.

I remember one of the investigators smiling at me and saying,
"You're really taking this rather well."
I glared at him and sarcastically apologized for my lack of
public hysteria. He stopped smiling.
I turned toward the gate and started to open it.

The investigator said I could not enter the property or the
house until the investigation was complete and as long as
the crime scene tape was in place.
I asked how long that would take and was told it could be
several days to more than a week.
I told them there were four cats and a dog in the house that
needed fresh food and water. NOW.
The lead investigator handed me his business card and said
that after they left I should make sure the tape did not
look like it had been disturbed. I thanked him.

As the officials got in their cars and began to leave, some of
the neighbors gathered around me. I began to hear what they
knew of Michael's last week. And, how he was found that day:

A long-time friend of ours had called Michael to ask if he could
get him a gun suitable for killing rats that were living in the
friend's girlfriend's tool shed. One of our neighbors was known
to brag about his large supply of guns. Michael got the gun from
the neighbor. For the reasonable sum of $50.

The long-time friend was too busy to pick up the gun for several
days. Michael asked the helpful neighbor to show him how to
load and shoot the gun in the woods. Helpful neighbor complied.

According to these neighbors and friends, Michael spent his last
week drinking, bitching about me and shooting in the woods.
No one called me because, they said, they were afraid I might
come back out of sympathy. I recall my therapist telling me, several
months later, that if I had gone back then it might have been our
murder/suicide instead.

It was the helpful neighbor and one other neighbor who became
concerned about Michael when he had not been seen or heard
from by noon that Saturday. They entered the house through
the back door, walked through the kitchen to the living room.
He was sitting upright on the sofa, slouched down a bit so the
back of his head was not in view. They had an idea of what they
were going to find as they walked to the front of the sofa.

Michael positioned himself in such a way that the top of the sofa
kept his brain and skull from splattering on the glass-front
bookcase that was about two feet behind him. Considerate, eh?
They said the entry hole was just to the right of center in his
forehead. Brain matter had run, like toothpaste, down his right cheek.
They called 911. They went to the neighbor next door, who then
called me.

The neighbors tried to talk me out of going in the house. They offered
to go in with me. I politely refused both offers.
I ducked under the yellow crime scene tape and walked up the
driveway to the back door and walked, slowly, inside.

Somehow, I managed to take care of the animals before I let myself
look at the sofa. I could tell where his head had rested.
A dark red, wet stain was on the back cushion scattered with bits
of bone, skin and brain. I remember trembling.
I don't remember the drive back to my apartment.
I had a long list of people to call.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Slice of Life...

Please, take a few minutes and go to Lee's blog.
He has begun training so he can run a 26 mile
marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
This is close to his heart... and he needs donors.

Read his other posts, too. He's one of the good guys.

Update: I am re-posting this for those who may have missed
it the first time.

(Part 5 should be ready soon...)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Guess Who, Again...

I am sick of this shit!

What about me?? I'm the one who died here!
Why is she getting all the fucking sympathy??
I'm the one who got screwed, not Jean!
She ruined my life!!
She had no!

well, isn't that interesting?
seems one version of hell would be
repeating our worst mistake.
over. and over. and over.

how d'ya like me now, motherfucker?
I'm still here. And I like it.

I win.

your used-to-be-wife

Sunday, May 20, 2007

It's All About Choices - Part 4...

This is getting more difficult to write, but here goes...

So, I officially made the break. Moved out. Free, sorta.
I found out later that Michael went on a drinking binge
that lasted several days. If his job at the time had not
been with such a shit company, he would have been
unemployed again. Lucky for me, I guess.

I started making phone calls to family and friends to let
them know the situation. The most common reaction was
shock and surprise. Why? Because, I had avoided "airing
our dirty laundry in public". Very, very few people had
any idea that there were problems in our marriage.
I did a pretty thorough job of covering that up, and Michael
was quite content with the status quo... until the last year
when I became very distant. Preparing to leave.

It was easy to keep up a front because all of my family lived
almost a thousand miles away. Visiting was infrequent. And,
they were always polite and rarely questioned my explanations
of his frequent job changes.

As far as my friends... I almost never socialized outside of work.
Michael was uncomfortable with my friends, calling them
"white-collar", "above" him, "out of his class".
The real truth was, they didn't drink like he did and that made
him uncomfortable. Very common for alcoholics to prefer to
only be around other people who like to drink a lot. Of course.

It wasn't until after he died that people he worked with let me
know how well they knew Michael... and, how surprised they
were that the marriage lasted as long as it did.
I honestly believed that I was the only one who saw him as he
really was. Co-dependants really do live in their own world...
a self-made world in their head.

After I got settled in my apartment, one of the first things I did
was to buy myself tickets to attend a series of concerts
by the London Symphony Orchestra. They perform here every
other year. In 1997, they would be in Daytona from the end of July
through the beginning of August. Remember this for later.

Michael found my phone number and address by calling the phone
company. (Thank you, Ma Bell.)
He started calling and leaving drunken rants on my answering
machine while I was at work. Let's say he was angry.
Let's also say that the few times we did speak, in those first two
weeks, the conversations did not go well.
Eventually, he became outwardly rational enough to attempt a
somewhat normal conversation. Unfortunately, those conversations
mostly revolved around him asking me to come back.
I told him I would never consider coming back unless he quit
drinking... completely.
I, of course, knew that would never happen.

At first, he did promise to quit drinking. He was lying. I knew it.
He would ask me to come to the house to watch a race with
him on a weekend. I knew he was lonely. I agreed.
He swore that he had not had a drink in (fill in the blank) days.
He was drinking soda. He reeked of stale beer.
I called him on it. He got angry. He would say he would quit
drinking when I came back.
Talk about your pissing contest.

I would never have left in the first place if I thought there might
have been a chance that things could have improved.
After a couple of months, I went to the courthouse and purchased
the do-it-yourself divorce packet. I made a copy for Michael.
I took the papers to him in person and asked him to read through
them. We had no children. I wanted nothing. It could be simple.
Michael refused to even look at the papers, let alone read them.
I believe that might have been the first time he realized that
I was completely... definitely... serious about ending the
marriage. Never coming back. His drinking got worse.
Neighbors told me he was having parties at the house.
I really didn't care.

I could include many more details of our relationship during
the months after I moved out. However, the redundancy
would probably become boring. And... I'm really not writing
this as a public whipping for him or a request for martyrdom
for me. No one is easy to live with. Me included.
This is my way of purging and flushing and healing.
Once.and.for.all. I hope.

Moving ahead to the end of July/beginning of August 1997...

I had tickets to three of the major LSO concerts.
The first two were wonderful. I attended alone.
I was in heaven.

The final performance was scheduled for August 9.
Because I purchased a "package", I also had a few
tickets to some of the mini-concerts in the series.
The last one of those was also scheduled for August 9,
in the afternoon. It was a Saturday.

I awoke that morning with tears sliding down my face.
I vaguely remembered dreaming, but had no memory of
any of the details. But, I woke up feeling sad... depressed.
I felt so heavy in this sadness that I almost decided not to
go to the afternoon concert. I finally dragged myself out of
bed and to the shower somewhere around eleven-thirty
that morning. My mood was terribly puzzling.

As I was getting out of the shower, I heard the phone ring.
Thinking it might be Michael, I decided to let the answering
machine pick up the call. It wasn't Michael.
I recognized the voice of a neighbor, and she was asking me
to pick up the phone. When I did, she said I needed to come
to the house. She said there was an ambulance and Sherriff's
cars parked in front. She said she didn't know what happened.
She did. She just didn't want to tell me over the phone.

(I'm starting to shake as I write this.)

I told her I'd be right there and I finished dressing.
Some kind of numbing feeling took over.

Michael had been diagnosed with severe asthma about seven
years before. He continued to smoke about three packs of
cigarettes a day. He told me after I moved out that he stopped
taking his medication because he couldn't afford it, even though
I kept him on my insurance through my employer.
More self-destructive behavior? Certainly.

My thought, as I was driving to the house, was that Michael
was dead from an asthma attack. That's what I expected to
be told. I was only partly right.

I had to park in my neighbor's driveway because there were
so many official vehicles in front of our house.
Most of the neighbors were gathered in the street.
There was a female deputy walking toward me.
Before I could say anything, she asked me if I was Mrs. ______.
I nodded and asked what happened.
She replied, "I'm sorry, ma'am. Mr. ______ is dead."
I remember asking, "How?"
She lifted her right hand to her temple, and with her index finger,
pointed and imitated the act of pulling a trigger.
I remember screaming.
She put her arm around my shoulder and walked me back to
the neighbor's house. I tried to turn around to go back to the
house. She stopped me, but that is when I saw all the yellow
Crime Scene tape on the fence around the yard.
Three or four other deputies and men in suits were standing
in front of the gate at the end of the driveway. Looking at me.

I guess there's going to be a Part 5. Sorry.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Girl's Day Out...

Today is gonna be fun.

I'm meeting a galfriend in Deland for a bit of
shopping and lunch and much chatting.

Deland is a lovely college town, home of
Stetson University, founded by the man known
for making Stetson hats.

Lunch will be enjoyed at Main Street Grill, sitting
outside next to the tiled fountain.

For those of you waiting for Part 4 to It's All About Choices,
I'm planning to add that tonight.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's All About Choices - Part 3...

Michael was an avid reader, a talented carpenter, electrician,
plumber. He could build a house. Re-build an engine.
He taught himself to repair antique clocks.
He had, in my eyes, the potential to be successful and happy.
Yet, with all of that, his attitude was reflected in his
favorite phrase, "Life sucks and then you die."
He made that true... for him.
To this day, I cringe whenever I hear anyone make that

In his eyes, nothing was ever enough. Nothing was ever quite
right. But, he wanted all he wanted without effort.
He wanted easy. He wore me down.
I wore myself down trying to create a life that needed two
people participating equally.

Finally, I realized that I was disappearing.
I had allowed myself to become almost completely absorbed
by him. I had no goals or dreams for myself. I existed entirely
to nurture him and his life.
I knew then that if I continued living that way, that I would
eventually fade away... and die.
My self would be gone forever. I would cease to exist.
I had to leave.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that there are very few
things I do quickly. I am a planner. I am an analyzer.
I am becoming more spontaneous... slowly.
But, eleven years ago, I wanted to be as prepared as possible.
I spent the next year saving money. Michael was unemployed
for the first nine months of that year.

February 1, 1997 I rented a small apartment about five miles
north of where we lived.
Michael and I were working opposite shifts, so I was able to
move small loads to the apartment while he was at work.
I was a nervous wreck.

March 1, 1997 I told Michael that I was moving out.
He said nothing, but I could see the muscles in his jaw
contracting. He wouldn't look at me. He kept staring at
the television. I asked him if he had anything to say, if he
wanted to talk. Almost in a whisper, he finally replied,
"What's to talk about? Your mind's made up."
I spent that night in a fitful sleep on the couch.
The next morning I loaded more of my things in my car
and drove to my apartment.
I don't remember my first night there.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Soul Salve...

Alone is not
always lonely, not
always empty, not
always painful.

Alone can be
healing, can be
peaceful, can be

( It's All About Choices - Part 3... is in process)

Monday, May 14, 2007

It's All About Choices - Part 2...

To start at the beginning, scroll down one post.

I've mentioned before somewhere, I think, that the reason I
married Michael was because...
he was the first man to ask me.
I was twenty-six at the time and literally afraid
that no one else would ask me to be their wife.
So, I said yes to him. Stupid.

I had nice boyfriends in high school.
I think I remember four dates in college.
After college, I moved to Florida and began to meet every
asshole, freak and jerk within a fifty mile radius.
Michael compared favorably to them. I thought.

To continue...
The job we took at the motel was miserable. The details don't
really matter. Suffice it to say, we lasted six months there
before we quit and moved to a duplex a few miles north and
on the mainland. Of course, this meant Michael needed to
find another job. And, the bankruptcy was not yet final.

Not long after we left the motel, the Federal Bankruptcy Court
notified us that they were sending movers to repossess our
bedroom and living room furniture. They were the only things
of value that we had that could be auctioned off, and the
monies distributed to our creditors. They didn't get much.
The day they picked up the furniture was another humiliation.

The next episode involved my health.
I was experiencing pain in my lower right abdomen. It was
determined that there was some kind of growth in the area
of my right ovary. Turned out to be scar tissue. No big deal.
It required minor surgery to remove it. I decided to ask the
surgeon to cut my tubes since he was going to be in the
neighborhood anyway. Michael and I had already decided
that we would not have children. I wanted to stop taking the pill.
I did not want to have his children.

This was around 1982 or '83 when insurance companies still
allowed patients to stay in the hospital a couple of days after
any surgery. I was scheduled to be there for two days.

I honestly don't remember if Michael was working by then.
If he was, he took off the entire week. To be with me? Nah.
To drink.

The morning of the surgery, he came to the hospital carrying
some kind of potted, flowering plant and put it on my table
beside the bed. I was in shock. He had NEVER given me flowers
of any kind. Ever. He had always said flowers were a waste of
money because they always died. (Never mind the money he
pissed away, literally, on the beer he drank.)

When I thanked him for the flowers, he said, "Well, I figured
that if you die I'd feel bad because I never gave you flowers
while you were alive. And, this is a plant so maybe it will live
a while." So much for that emotional moment.

As soon as I woke up from surgery, he went home.
Next morning, the doctor released me to go home. It was about
10 a.m. I called the house so Michael could pick me up.
No answer. I waited half an hour and called again. No answer.
The cleaning crew came in to get the room ready for the next
patient. Hard to do with me still in the bed.

By noon, still no Michael. I called the local police department.
Neighbors were all at work. The police called me back and said
they couldn't tell if he was home or not, but they got no response
when they banged on the door. Terrific.

I thought about calling a taxi, but I had no cash on me.
So, I kept calling the house. Finally, around 3 p.m., he answered
the phone. Slurred speech. Said he had taken some Tylenol for
a toothache and had been sleeping. Right.
When he showed up at the hospital, he reeked of alcohol and
was staggering. I drove home.

Did I mention that we had to buy a new bed because we lost
the last one in the bankruptcy?
Did I mention that Michael arranged to have the new bed...
a king size waterbed... delivered on the day I got home from
having surgery? SO I COULD HELP HIM SET IT UP.
And, I did. And, it hurt. Stupid.
It was either help him or sleep curled up in a pappasan chair.
He didn't ask friends for help. That's what his wife was for.

I will try to post again tomorrow night...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's All About Choices...

House of Horror...

It was ten years ago this March that I left my husband.
It will be ten years this August that he killed himself.

Seems that I should be done with this by now. Right?
Apparently not. Perhaps writing this will put me another
step closer to being done.

Warning to those easily offended or sensitive to graphic description:
Stop reading now and come back in a few days. Or, scroll down to
other posts or read through the archives. It's all about choices...

Michael was a drunk. Likeable enough, as many drunks are, but a drunk
nonetheless. He was also a drunk who didn't like to work but loved
being taken care of. He walked out on good jobs without having another
job waiting. That meant no money from him for the six months to
eighteen months it took him to find another job. Correction: accept
another job. He was picky. He could afford to be picky. He bragged, often,
that his wife was smarter than him and always made more money.
That wife was me. Stupid. Enabler. Stupid. Scared. Stupid. Dumbshit.

We met at work in 1977. A shitty factory that hired shitty people.
He had left his first wife and moved back to his parent's home.
Ironically, he left his first wife because she didn't want to work.
Or so he said. I never talked to her.
I helped him with the do-it-yourself-divorce paperwork. Stupid.
We got married in 1978. On the beach at sunrise. Hippy-style.
About a year later, he quit that job. Walked out.
He said he couldn't handle the un-safe conditions there. People got
hurt there. That was true. I was very aware of those conditions because
I worked in their Emergency First Aid Department for two years
of the nine years I spent there.

That company hired him back a few weeks later, because he was a
damn good die-setter. He walked out again before two weeks went by.
That stretch of unemployment lasted about four months.
So began that pattern.

Did I mention he had a DUI on his record? From shortly after we
started dating. Before I married him. No driver's license. Stupid.

His next job was with a company that made cement blocks. Good wage.
Rotating shift. Close enough to the apartment that he could ride a
bicycle to work when our schedules didn't jive. He quit. No notice.
Safety issues there, too, he said. He wasn't comfortable.

That stretch of unemployment was enough to get the bill collectors
riled. Eventually, he talked me into filing for bankruptcy.
Perhaps the most humiliating experience of my life. Lied to my parents.
I borrowed the bankruptcy fee from them, but told them it was to pay
bills. They knew he wasn't working. I paid them back in full a year later.

I have no issues with bankruptcy for people who come by hard times
honestly. I didn't feel that we deserved that option.
He could have been working.

Did his family help? Fuck. Where do you think he learned all this?
I was buying groceries for them too. Stupid.

We needed to find a cheaper place to live and a job for him.
He found an ad in the paper for live-in managers at a motel
on the beachside. That meant I would be working two jobs. Stupid.
He loved it. Convenience stores within walking distance. Lots of beer.

I came home one night, after working a long day, and nothing had been
done at the motel. He was drunk. Of course.
My duties at the motel included all the bookkeeping and helping him
with cleaning, repairs and laundry. Plus, I did our shopping, cooking,
bill-paying and apartment cleaning. This night put me over the edge.

A bit of advice for those who might be dealing with a drunk: don't
bother talking to them when they are drunk. Not that they are any
more reasonable when they might be sober for an hour or two. But,
they might remember the conversation later if they're not drinking
at the time. Actually, if you are dealing with a drunk... just leave. Quickly.
And, don't look back.

To continue with the night that put me over the edge...
I ranted. And I ranted some more. I think it was the first time I let
him see me angry because of his drinking. We had been married about
four years at that point.
His response to my ranting?
He stood up slowly and pointed his index finger in my face.
His brow wrinkled, his eyes squinted, his face got red.
He said, "If you EVER try to make me choose between my beer,
cigarettes, pot and you? YOU will lose!"

Are ya thinking this might have been the time an intelligent person
would have packed her shit and hauled ass out the door? Yeah.
Stupid for another fifteen fucking years.

I can feel the bile rising in my throat.
Part Two will be continued later...

Monday, May 07, 2007

You are...

a jewel
a treasure
a light.


a rock
a shoulder
a cool breeze.


for then
and now
and tomorrow.

thank you.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Hot Fudge Sundae...

...that's what I wanted for a late lunch. From McD's.
I stuck a book in my purse, so I could read
in the car while I ate.

It had rained earlier and I didn't notice. Oblivious blonde.
What I did notice all day was the smell of smoke from the
brush fires around the area. Yesterday, the air here was clear.
Today, the smoke is heavy... eye-burning, throat-scratching.

Memories of the fires in 1998 made me cringe.
I'd rather go through a hurricane than re-live that summer.

As I drove north, the smoke got thicker. I heard thunder.
More rain would be a blessing, unless it was accompanied
by lightning. Lightning could start more fires.

Heading for the drive-thru, the dark clouds hung low north
and west. I found a parking space at the edge of the lot.

The thunder sounded closer, louder. Lightning was more frequent.
The wind picked up, blowing big raindrops at hard angles.
The clouds were almost black now... and lower. Swirling.
I wondered if I was seeing only storm clouds or if this was
also heavy smoke from the fires. The fires aren't that far away.
Probably no more than five miles in either direction.

The wind got stronger. And then I thought tornado. Damn.
I started the car and headed towards home. Now I'm hearing
emergency vehicle sirens. It's raining harder, wind is stronger.

About a mile from home, the sky is clearer and the rain is slower.
How could there be such a difference in such a short distance?
Because it's Florida.

Still raining as I park in front of my house, a neighbor waves
from his garage. I have one more thought as I walk up my
I really should buy an umbrella. Again.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Meme Thing...

Dave got tagged by SP and decided to lash out by sending
five questions for me to answer. He probably thinks I am
ignoring him since he very sweetly asked me to do this
about two weeks ago. Forgive me, Dave. Here we go...

1. Baked or fried?
I like both, probably pick fried more often, but my
favorite is actually grilled. Which is kinda fried, right?

2. "My friends all think I should never _____."
This was surprisingly difficult. I don't ask people for advice
very often and most of my friends have learned not to offer
much. The best I could come up with is "never give up."

3. Do you believe there is a future in plasmonics?
Damn, Dave... my first reaction was "WTF??"
After minimal research and talking to an engineer, all I
can figure out is that this has something to do with
electronic data transfer and is still undergoing testing
and research. It sounds to me that someone wants it to
succeed, so I'm going to say... yes. My head hurts.

4. "I will never... ever go to _______ again!"
Key West during Fantasy Fest.
Not because most of the men dressed up in fish-net stockings
and garter belts, but because it was wayyyyy too crowded for
too many days. That island is only two miles by four miles and
I kept thinking it was going to sink with so many people
crammed on it. I don't like huge crowds.

5. "They shouldn't put that white, gooey stuff in
Hostess Ding-Dongs. It should be _______."
Sorry, Dave. The only thing that should be in a Ding-Dong
is the white, gooey stuff. I love it.

Now, for the rules, in case any of you want to play:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions.
I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your weblog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview
someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will
ask them five questions.

Any takers?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


No strength for
the effort.
No desire for
the dream.
Barely floating.
No wave.
No ripple.
Sink away.
Hope works no more.